Dead Space Original Videogame Soundtrack :: Review by orion_mk3
A science-fiction survival horror title that received better than average reviews in late 2008, Dead Space joins the increasing number of Western games featuring full-fledged soundtrack releases. Written by the appropriately named Jason Graves and recorded by a live orchestra at no less a facility than Skywalker Sound, Dead Space proves a very modern and complex addition to the pantheon of survival horror scores.
The album begins on a cold, contemplative note in "Welcome Aboard the U.S.G. Ishimura," the first part of which is the most serene and melodic the album gets. There are a few other isolated recurrences of this style, most notably in the morose "Nicole's Farewell," and some of the louder tracks will sometimes segue into quieter music for a moment or two.
Suspense music is woven throughout the album as well, providing an uneasy churning sound that seems ready to explode into towering horror cues and often does. The "Dead Space Theme" is the only largely self-contained example of this style, with the remainder mixed into suites with other styles. But this, and the colder and more traditional music, form a small portion of the album overall.
The vast majority of the music is unrelenting in its orchestral chaos. Tracks like "The Leviathan" are full-on aural assaults, melding shrieking strings, pounding percussion, and deeply layered brasses. It's a very modernistic sound, written in an aleatoric style often bordering on "musique concréte" with strong echoes of Elliot Goldenthal and John Corigliano.
Considering the debt that the game itself owes to the Alien franchise, it's no surprise that the films' melding of cold, clinical soft music with cacophonous and modernistic action writing is very much in evidence. However, this approach does have its drawbacks; the music isn't very thematic and likely won't appeal to many because of that. The sheer amount of gigantic, slashing horror cues can also be exhausting with few lighter tracks to break things up.
It's very refreshing to see music like this being written for a game; there are few places today where such a sound could be used. While the dissonant, chaotic sound of the album certainly isn't for everyone, those who do appreciate relentless modernistic music on a gigantic level will find a lot to enjoy here. Highly recommended.
Overall Score: 9/10